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Missile Silos Turned into 'Survival Condos'

When looking for a new home, many people consider things like the safety of the area, the nearness to public transportation or the quality of the neighborhood school.

Some other people -- survivalists for example -- may pick a home that can protect them against nuclear explosions, terrorist attacks or a breakdown in law and order.

A survivalist is a person who believes that government and society will soon fail completely. They store food and water, weapons and power sources to survive when that happens.

These people might want to live in a special condominium, or condo, in the United States.

Two reporters for VOA News recently visited a facility near the town of Concordia, Kansas. In that town, costly condos have been built inside a missile silo that is no longer used.

This intercontinental ballistic missile points skyward from its position in a silo. (AP PHOTO)

This intercontinental ballistic missile points skyward from its position in a silo. (AP PHOTO)

In the wilderness of northern Kansas, you can find heavily armed guards, armored vehicles, high-resolution cameras and gun stations. If you think this is a military center, think again.

This was once an Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile silo. The silo was part of the U.S. defense system during the Cold War.

Developer Larry Hall bought the silo after it was decommissioned in 1965. He has turned it into a world of comfortable, high-class living inside.

"What we've got here is an Atlas F missile silo, that in terms of capabilities, is pretty amazing. It would cost $120 million to reproduce what we start with."

The center has 14 levels connected by an elevator. It has a 25-meter-long swimming pool, a high-end movie theater and a rock climbing wall.

The center is meant to work if the grid goes down, meaning if the power systems, or grids, in the U.S. are unable to supply people with power. The silo has very carefully planned water and power sources in the form of generators, batteries and wind turbines.

(LARRY HALL) "If we lost the grid connection, we got the primary generator, (and) secondary generator. We have our own wind turbine, and we have a battery bank."

The 14 units are designed so people can live here for five years without any contact with the outside world. One whole level is used for storing powdered food. There are also farms that do not require sunlight. These guarantee that residents have a lasting supply of fresh vegetables and fish.

You can even pick your view out the window. The electronic windows in the facility cost $15,000 each. They help to reduce any unease about living underground for a long period of time by supplying pictures of different seasons and different cities.

(LARRY HALL) "If you want, you know, spring, summer, winter and fall in New York City, you can live in New York City. If you want to be in San Francisco or any place else, we use a Red One camera, in high-definition format, and we record it for 24 hours."

So, how much does it cost to live underground in a missile silo? A home with more than 170 square meters of floor space starts at $3 million. A place half that size costs about $1.5 million. But you have to be rich enough to make a full payment in cash.

Most people living there use their condos as a vacation home. Two children named Leighton and Luke are spending their summer here.

(LEIGHTON) "I feel like nobody else because nobody else gets to be in an underground silo and have awesome stuff like a rock wall."

(LUKE) "It feels like sometimes you are not even underground; like you are just in, like, a normal house."

The first Survival Condo Project is completely filled. A second silo is now being built. And half of those homes have already been sold.

Underground living in a missile silo may make the owners feel secure. But, it is only for those who can afford it.

I’m Anna Matteo.

Enming Liu and Lin Yang reported this story from Concordia, Kansas. Anna Matteo adapted it for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.


Words in This Story

missile silo n. a very deep, underground launch station for a missile

ballistic adj. describing something shot through the sky for great distances

decommissioned v. to officially stop using (a ship, weapon, dam, etc.) : to remove (something) from service

grid n. the system of providing electricity to large areas : examples : “He lives off the grid and uses only the power he makes himself.” If the grid goes down and there is no longer any power sources, will you be ready?”

generator n. a device that uses a motor to produce electricity

battery n. a device for storing energy or electricity

turbine n. an engine with parts that spin because of air water or steam pressure

powder n. something (as a food, medicine, or cosmetic) made in or changed to the form of a powder

high-definition adj. having a very clear picture and a wide screen

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